NEWS / BLOG
At Hendrick Clinic Bone and Joint, our primary goal has always been to get you back to your desired lifestyle — your family life, work life, the competitive playing field, or your daily walk. At any age, meeting your expectations for successful treatment and providing excellent support for a speedy recovery are our primary focus.
Though some people may struggle with identifying an ideal career path, but not Justin Harrison, an Abilene Bone & Joint (ABJ) board-certified physician assistant. Justin Harrison found his career at the age of 13. Finding his mother unresponsive due to an asthma attack, Justin took care of her by providing rescue breathing until the first responders arrived.
“God was telling me if I could take care of my mother during a medical crisis, I could take care of people in general,” explains Justin.
Justin’s faith is paramount in his life he shares with his family – his wife, Kendall, and their two sons, ages 10 and 7. Justin is also actively involved with the college ministry program at their church, Hillcrest Church of Christ.
Justin enjoys sharing stories of how his faith – and those of his patients – is readily apparent in his work. “I pray with my patients, and many times prayer helps heal more than I can do on my own,” says Justin. “I’ve had a front row seat in watching God’s work.”
When Justin isn’t working, he enjoys the involvement as coach of various sports with his sons – including Little League and 7-on-7 football. Though his first love for a hobby is golf, beginning at the age of two; Justin even scored a hole-in-one at the age of 12.
Justin and Kendall also spend time traveling – as a family and as a couple. When asked about his favorite destination, he answers quick, “Kendall and I traveled to New Zealand and it was wonderful. Our favorite part was the hot springs of Rotorua; we felt like we had a private spring via the Polynesian Spring Resort.”
Though Abilene, the Big Country and ABJ are experiencing COVID-19 and its related effects, Justin said there were no surprises in the efficient protocols deployed by ABJ and how everyone is managing their respective areas as expected.
Justin has been a part of the Abilene Bone & Joint team since 2013 after serving in various roles throughout the state; Justin’s most recent role was in the emergency room at Abilene’s Hendrick Medical Center.
Justin believes the easy-going, approachable demeanor of the ABJ doctors and their support of his work has been the best part of being part of the ABJ team. When asked what surprises him the most about his work at ABJ, Justin discusses the autonomy provided by the doctors and how they let him do the job he was hired to do.
Abilene High School graduate Seth Willis knows Abilene. For Abilene, Seth has been recognized as an Abilene ‘star’, too!
Seth’s role in many of Abilene’s physical fitness programs, local ballet performances and Hendrick Home for Children’s fundraiser, ‘Dancing with the Abilene Stars’, has positioned him on a stage he’s not accustomed to.
“After seven different years of dancing via ‘Dancing with the Abilene Stars’ I’ve had the honor of dancing with five partners who won ‘best female’ and I’m pretty proud of them,” explains Seth. “However, raising the needed funds for Hendrick Home for Children is what I am most proud of and would prefer my name to be associated with.”
Following his graduation from Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas, Seth returned as quickly as he could to Abilene. Seth began his career in the banking industry and expected that was where he would remain.
When asked what he enjoyed most about working for the banks, there was no hesitation in his answer: “I really liked the customer interactions within my role, and like Abilene Bone & Joint, the customers are our foundation for success.”
Parent to three children, Seth and his wife Britt have deep ties to Abilene and are on a mission to strengthen those ties anyway they can. Those ties include church, friends, their respective workplaces, and even the neighborhood of their family’s home.
Since joining Abilene Bone & Joint in 2012, Seth wears many hats, though accounting and human resources is his primary responsibility. Seth believes the doctors are great leaders with a strong business acumen and they (the doctors) trust their staff to do their jobs to the best of their abilities. Seth also strongly believes the Abilene Bone & Joint team has improved overtime and are poised for continued growth.
Seth has been fortunate to have experiences when he’s out in the community to reaffirm his role and being part of the Abilene Bone & Joint team. “When I have one of my branded shirts on – even in the grocery story – it happens frequently for someone to tell me what a great group Abilene Bone & Joint is and their pro-active role in the community. Even eight years later, I’m still pleasantly surprised of the impact we have in the community,” proudly boasts Seth.
We know you may have many questions regarding your elective orthopedic surgery. In an effort to try to answer your concerns we are sharing the following via the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.
Questions and Answers for Patients Regarding Elective Surgery and COVID-19
In many cities and states, nonessential orthopedic surgeries that were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic are now resuming. This resource was created to help address questions and concerns patients may have about the impact of COVID-19 on their rescheduled procedures. If you are scheduled for orthopedic surgery, your doctor will talk with you about the specific protocols followed by your hospital or surgical facility.
Is it safe to have my surgery?
As orthopedic surgeons, your safety as a patient is our primary concern.
Now that the number of acute COVID-19 cases has begun to decline and there is “flattening of the curve” in many places, many facilities have started to resume elective orthopedic procedures. Surgical facilities will follow federal, state, and local guidelines in making the decision to reopen for elective surgery. During the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, orthopedic surgeons have continued to provide critical emergency surgical care to patients safely and effectively. Our experience with these patients allows the doctors and facilities to make your scheduled surgery as safe and successful as possible. Ensuring your safety as a patient is our primary concern.
Your surgeon can explain to you what precautions are in place at the facility where you will be having surgery and what procedures you and your family will need to follow to make your surgery as safe and successful as possible.
What precautions are taken to make sure the facility is safe?
Your hospital or outpatient surgical facility will follow extensive sterilization and sanitization procedures in line with both government and industry recommendations. Our facilities have a high air flow and sanitization rate in the operating rooms, which helps to decrease potential disease transmission. In many cases, this may mean that the time between surgical procedures will be longer than normal and that fewer surgeries can be scheduled in an operating room during a single day.
Operating room and other facility personnel will typically be screened routinely, with the frequency depending on local conditions. Personnel will likely be tested for the virus if there is any question of illness.
The facility may also place limitations on whether visitors may come into the facility or may provide a designated waiting area away from the operating suite. Social distancing will be practiced in waiting areas.
If I am having surgery, will I require screening and/or testing?
Screening and/or testing of all patients having surgery will be required to make sure you have had no known exposure to COVID-19 and you have had no symptoms consistent with the disease. No test or screening in 100% accurate, so you may be screened or tested more than once to help safeguard you during your surgery.
Your surgical facility, whether it is a hospital or surgery center, will have a protocol for both screening and testing.
What is the difference between screening and testing?
Screening means you are evaluated for symptoms and findings of COVID-19 disease. This takes the form of questions to make sure that you have no history of symptoms to indicate you are actively sick. You will be asked if you have had recent close contact with anyone known to have the disease. A physical examination, including a temperature check, will also be part of the screening process.
Testing means that you have a physical test to make sure that you are not sick with the virus. A sample is taken from your nasal passages or your saliva and sent to a laboratory to be tested.
When will screening and/or testing take place?
You will need to be evaluated several days before your surgery and again when you arrive at the surgical facility. This is to make sure that no changes have taken place since your first evaluation.
Some hospitals or surgery centers may require that you self-isolate or quarantine between the time of your preoperative evaluation and the day of your surgery.
What happens if there is a problem with my preoperative evaluation?
If there is anything in your preoperative evaluation that suggests there might be a problem, your surgery will be postponed. This is for your own safety, as you would not want to have surgery if there were some chance that you might have COVID-19.
If you have mild symptoms, such as a sore throat or cough, these will need to be checked even if your virus test is negative. That way you will know it is safe to go forward with surgery.
Obviously, if there is a true emergency, then surgery will have to proceed even though the risks are greater.
If my surgery is postponed, how long do I have to wait to be rescheduled?
Your surgery can be rescheduled once you are symptom-free and your virus test is negative. If you have had COVID-19, you will need to be rechecked by your primary care physician to make sure you are medically cleared for surgery. Ensuring your safety is always our primary concern. Once you are medically cleared for surgery, your orthopedic surgeon can help get you “back on the schedule” in a timely fashion.
If I am having surgery at a hospital, will I be in an area close to where patients have COVID-19?
Most hospital facilities will keep COVID-19 patients in separate areas that are being taken care of by a different group of hospital workers and nurses.
Can I bring a family member? Can they wait with me before and after my surgery?
The rules for friends and family are different for each surgical procedure facility. Almost all procedures will require at least some degree of sedation even if you are not having general anesthesia. That means that someone will need to take you to the facility, and someone will need to drive you home. A friend or family member will also need to receive your discharge instructions.
Depending upon the facility, your friend or family member may be able to wait in a specially designated area or may only be able to drop you off and pick you up at the entrance to the facility. Some exceptions may be made if you are a parent bringing a pediatric patient for surgery.
Should I quarantine before my surgery?
Many facilities will recommend that you quarantine for several days before surgery. Typically, this is done between the time you were screened and/or tested and the time of your scheduled surgery. Your surgeon will advise you as to what needs to be done and what precautions you should take before your procedure. The recommendations will partly be based on the protocols followed by the facility where you are having surgery.
What can I do at home before and after surgery to decrease my risk of contracting the virus?
It is important to take precautions against the spread of COVID-19 disease both before and after surgery. Avoid crowds, maintain social distancing, practice good hygiene, wear a mask when in public, and try to avoid close contact with friends or family members who work in areas where they may be exposed to the virus.
What is the difference between viral and antibody testing?
A viral (antigen) test can be done to determine if you have active COVID-19 disease. This is done by inserting a long swab into your nasal passages or by obtaining a saliva specimen. If it is positive, you may need to seek further treatment and avoid contact with others to prevent the spread of the disease. Most viral tests are about 80-90% accurate.
An antibody test is done by drawing a blood specimen. It should be able to tell if you have had COVID-19 disease, but the accuracy of the currently available antibody tests is uncertain. If you have a negative test, it could be what is called a “false negative,” meaning that you have been exposed to the virus, but the test was inaccurate. On the other hand, if you have a positive test, it means that you have been exposed to the virus, but it does not mean you have immunity against getting the disease again. There is currently a great deal of research going on in this area and we hope to have an accurate antibody test very soon.
What happens to me if I develop symptoms of COVID- 19 after my surgery?
Even though you may have tested negative for COVID-19 before surgery, it is certainly possible to contract the virus afterward. If you are experiencing symptoms such as fever, headache, nausea, vomiting or shortness of breath, contact your physician and you will be given appropriate treatment.
I’m not sure if it’s just me, or if everyone wakes up some days and ask themselves, “am I dreaming or is this pandemic predicament really happening right now?”
Yes, our lives and related habits have taken an abrupt turn in recent months; our work styles have changed dramatically – and even some of our fellow citizens are no longer working; and the things we hold near and dear to us – our faith, family and friends – is shining under a different light.
I, in conjunction with my fellow partners of Abilene Bone & Joint Clinic and our dedicated staff, want to provide you a “state of interruption’ update. Similar to how our elected officials deliver a ‘state of city/state/union’ at the beginning of a new year, I felt it was important to share with you some key points related to the coronavirus and the role Abilene Bone & Joint is playing in an effort to curb any misinformation or dispel some myths.
Many of us hear frequently how Abilene and the Big Country is almost like an island – we’re two and a half hours from another city. This has worked in our favor, our distance of our region from other larger, more populated areas. It’s almost as if we have been ‘social distancing’ for years geographically, and now we realize how fortunate that is.
In our part of the world, the ‘curve’ has been pretty flat and stable; especially compared to other markets like Amarillo and El Paso. Amarillo’s beef packing industry has taken a toll with more COVID-19 positive test results, and that area has seen some dramatic spikes.
However, what’s also true and we need to be mindful of is there is more testing being conducted everywhere than there was even weeks ago, so the spikes are often related to the amped up number of tests being completed. It’s imperative when you review data, you assure you are comparing apples to apples.
- I applaud Governor Greg Abbott and his plan with loosening the restrictions on our great state of Texas. And, it is my belief where we are headed is suitable, and not too fast.
If as a State or a community we didn’t begin reopening, the deaths from starvation due to economic crisis, coupled with medical needs and procedures (cancer, etc.) that have been put on-hold too long plus mental health could be detrimental to our society.
- My hat is off to Governor Abbott and his earlier protocols regarding self-quarantine for in-bound travelers. I feel this played a strong favorable role in minimizing our positive test results.
- I also feel our local and state elected officials have been proactive; and as a team, Abilene Bone & Joint will continue to help their respective roles in this current crisis if and when we are called upon.
Hendrick Medical Center has also done a robust job; though I’m not on staff at Abilene Regional Medical Center, there’s no doubt our area would not have seen the progress of flattening the curve and minimal impact as we have experienced without both medical centers’ expertise on meeting the needs and demands of our vital community during these uncharted times.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a heartfelt appreciation for the medical team and ancillary staff here at Abilene Bone & Joint. Their resiliency and tenacity are remarkable.
Unfortunately, nobody can turn off gravity during a pandemic. People still fall, automobile accidents still happen, and physical misfortunes continue. However, it is the fortitude and positive outlook a geographical region has that can make all the difference. I am humbled by you, our patients, for your support and confidence in the Abilene Bone & Joint team.
Shannon Cooke, MD
Beeville native, Shona Preston, has joined Abilene Bone and Joint as their newest nurse practitioner. A nurse practitioner (NP) is an advanced practice registered nurse and a type of mid-level practitioner. NPs are trained to assess patient needs, order and interpret diagnostic and laboratory tests, diagnose disease, formulate and prescribe treatment plans.
A graduate of Hardin Simmons University, Shona completed her Master of science in Nursing-Family Nurse Practitioner in 2001 and her Bachelor of Science in 1997; yet decided to make Abilene home in 1992. Though many surgeon or physician groups in the region offer nurse practitioners, Shona’s vast experience in pain management and direct patient care is a tremendous asset to the practice.
“Having Shona join the Abilene Bone & Joint team will enable us to continue offering a true depth of care with our patients; coupled with Shona’s background in the management of opiates. Shona joining ABJ provides us a continuum of care needed in both pain management and the overall needs of the ABJ patient protocol,” explains Dr. Shannon Cooke, managing partner of Abilene Bone and Joint.
Shona has been involved in Abilene for several years. A member of First Baptist Church, Shona is also involved as a member with both the Abilene Philharmonic Guild as well as the Abilene Ballet Theatre Guild. She’s a former volunteer with Junior Achievement Abilene.
“I’m eager to join the Abilene Bone & Joint team. The respect this group has throughout the region is impressive and I’m thankful – and ready – to be a part of it,” states Shona.
Shona is a sixth-generation member of a long-standing farming and ranching family from the Beeville community. Shona and her husband, Matt, have been married for over twenty years and have three children.
Shona is seeing new patients now – call 325-672-4372 to schedule your appointment.
A native near Corpus Christi, Abilene Bone & Joint Clinic’s office manager Rhonda Garcia initially went to school to become a certified dental assistant. And now, more than 30 years later, she is still embracing the medical field with the same passion but just in a different area, managing the daily office operations of an orthopedic surgical group.
After meeting her Air Force firefighter husband of 30 years in Corpus Christi, they moved to Abilene in 1990. Since coming to Abilene, Rhonda and Martin have together managed one of life’s biggest areas – a busy household. They have two college-aged children, Michael, a graduate of Texas A & M; and Madison, a Texas Tech graduate. Madison is also part of the Abilene Bone & Joint Clinic team; Madison works part-time for Dr. Vann.
Though Rhonda and Martin are enjoying their newfound lifestyle as empty nesters and traveling, they enjoy spending time with their children at the kids’ respective collegiate football games.
“I love helping people. I love being a leader and teaching the staff about, hard work, loyalty, commitment and being put on this earth to do God’s work,” boast Rhonda.
In her free time, Rhonda enjoys working out at the gym and spending time by the pool when her and Martin are not traveling.
Unfortunately, Rhonda has experienced being on the other side of the table; her husband is a patient of Dr. Britten, one of Abilene Bone & Joint Clinic’s orthopedic surgeons. Martin was diagnosed with Synovial Sarcoma in his left bicep muscle. Martin has had chemo, surgery and radiation and has been cancer-free for about two and a half years. As tough as it is to discuss, Rhonda explains how Martin’s medical team had not given him a good prognosis; “but with the Lord being by our side he has overcome,” she says with a great deal of relief in her voice.
When asked about the best part of being a member of the Abilene Bone & Joint Clinic team, Rhonda answers quickly, “we’re here to help people, regardless if it’s a patient, or a colleague, and you just can’t find that with any job or company.”
Per Governor Greg Abbott’s Executive Order on April 17th regarding the loosening of restrictions of procedures and surgeries, Abilene Bone & Joint has made the decision to proceed cautiously. Though our ‘no waiting room’ policy will remain in force, our medical team will closely monitor our local health facilities’ protocols, coupled with the City’s recommendations, in an effort to assure the upmost safety for our patients and our team members.
Just to recap, our ‘no waiting room’ policy is as follows: Abilene Bone & Joint Clinic plus Action Sports Medicine and Physical Therapy implemented a ‘No Waiting Room Policy’ effective March 30, 2020.
Abilene Bone & Joint Patients will receive a text and/or an email prior to their appointment which will allow them to pre-register, pay co-pays, and/or pay on their balance prior to checking in at the office for their respective appointment. Abilene Bone & Joint employees will be waiting for patients’ arrival in front of both locations – Cottonwood and Buffalo Gap Road.
Abilene Bone & Joint are asking the patient(s) to kindly drive by and inform the employee of their arrival and an ABJ representative will alert them when an exam room is available.
“The Big Country and the Abilene community are vital to our practice; we must work in conjunction with City and County officials to assure Abilene Bone & Joint are meeting standards set forth by our communities’ leadership,” explains Dr. Shannon Cooke, managing partner. “Working together will reap benefits both in the short term and long term for all of us in fighting this virus.”
If you have any questions or concerns, call our office – 325-672-4372.
Odessa native, Brian Sager, MD, has joined Abilene Bone and Joint as their newest surgeon. As a hand specialist, Dr. Sager will be the first, and only, fellowship trained hand and upper extremity surgeon in the Big Country.
“Having Dr. Sager as part of the Abilene Bone and Joint surgical team brings a depth of specialized services unique for a mid-market community like Abilene. Those who are in need of concentrated hand orthopedic surgery will be able to stay in Abilene for the surgery therefore eliminating travel and related expenses when seeing a specialist in larger markets like Dallas or Houston,” explains Dr. Shannon Cooke, managing partner of Abilene Bone and Joint.
A graduate of Dallas’ University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dr. Sager completed his Hand and Upper Extremity Fellowship under the director of renowned Martin Posner, MD of the New York University Hospital for Joint Diseases in New York City.
The uniqueness of having Dr. Sager in Abilene and the Big Country offers many non-surgical and minimally invasive surgical treatment options for one’s hand, wrist, elbow pain. Whether a patient may have arthritis in their hands or an acute hand, wrist, elbow injury, Dr. Sager can help diagnose and treat the patient complaint to get them back to their respective activities.
“I’m thankful to be in Abilene and a member of the Abilene Bone and Joint surgical group. The group’s reputation in the 15-county area was one of the most impressive things that led me to interview with them, coupled with a return to my native Texas. I really feel like my specialty training will be a tremendous asset for the region.” states Dr. Sager.
A newlywed, Dr. Sager and his physical therapist wife, are both eager to make Abilene home. In his spare time, Dr. Sager enjoys outdoor activities and traveling. Dr. Sager is currently accepting patients.
For more than 40 years, Abilene Bone and Joint has provided medical care to Abilene and the 15-county region. Leaders within their respective areas of specialty, the seven members of surgical team of Abilene Bone and Joint prides themselves on having one of the lowest wound healing infection rates in the state. Committed to a simple goal of treating orthopedic problems, the highly respected surgeons have one goal in mind – returning patients to an active lifestyle; regardless if the goal encompasses competitive collegiate sports or simply walking the neighborhood.
STAY IN TOUCH WITH HENDRICK CLINIC BONE AND JOINT
Join our mailing list to receive updates: